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Destutt de Tracy: A French Precursor of the Virginia School of Public Finance

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 June 2009

Robert W. Dimand
Affiliation:
Brock University, St. Catharines, Canada
Edwin G. West
Affiliation:
Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada

Extract

The relationship of the Virginia School of public finance to several important topics in the history of economic thought has attracted much recent attention. Barry Baysinger and Robert Tollison (1980), for instance, view William Ewart Gladstone's fiscal policies as an attempt to create a tax constitution to restrain a revenue-maximizing government. This position is in keeping with the evolving normative taxation principles of the Virginia School (see especially Brennan and Buchanan 1980). Charles Leathers (1986), on the other hand, argues that Gladstonian finance emphasized expenditure constraints, not constitutional tax constraints. Elias Khalil (1987) meanwhile, contrasts James Buchanan's methodological individualism with the “nonseparable” approach of Sir James Steuart (1767), which led Steuart to approve of a large degree of state intervention in the economy. While these essays either find past policies that conform to Virginia School principles or else find past economic theorists with sharply different approaches, they have not noted a striking anticipation of Buchanan's view of public debts by Antonine Louis Claude Destutt de Tracy (1754–1836).

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1989

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References

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